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The History of Design and Culture – The Egyptians

Temple of Karnak

Let me tell you, the Egyptians a clever lot. Their culture has thousands of years of a wonderful recorded history. Theirs was among the earliest of civilizations. Egypt, for a millennium maintained a complex and stable culture which influenced later cultures of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Look at the wonderful monuments to their creativity, design work which we have today, most of it ravaged by our pollution. Their scribes used both phonograms and ideograms and thousands of people tried to decipher the hieroglyphics until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, when archaeologists were able finally to make sense of the Egyptian writings. The stone is a granodiorite stele inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis, Egypt in 196 BC on behalf of Pharaoh Ptolemy V.

The Rosetta Stone, even here the design of it is interesting. It goes from the broadest form of writing, Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, to the middle with demotic script and the bottom Ancient Greek, which is the smallest. The stone is in the British Museum in London and is the most visited artefact.

Apart from this of course, there were all the depictions of daily life and especially of the deaths of rulers. I will not go into detail too much otherwise I will be here for years, but the artists of this time, were magnificent and so were the images they painted and sculpted. The most beautiful woman of all, Queen Nofretete, or Nefertiti, had her image sculpted by a genius.

Khanacademy. A bust of lovely Queen Nefertiti. Her beauty has been held as the ideal face for a woman and if you think how old this artifact is and of her timeless beauty, who are we to disagree.  Please refer to the 2 pictures above showing the great temple complex of Karnak, it’s quite amazing that with the most primitive of tools, but incredible brains, people were able to make these immense monuments.

The temple of Karnak was so large that St. Peter’s, the cathedral of Milan and Notre Dame, Paris would fit in its walls. Can you imagine that? The design fits perfectly with the culture of that period and the temple was added to over a period of 2000 years. The people living and working there were privileged to have been in such a marvellous place.  The gods certainly smiled on the ancient Egyptians with their talent.

Of course, the history of Ancient Egypt is vast and another quantum leap is going to have to take place if I am ever to finish this article! For almost 30 centuries from ca. 3100 BC until Alexander the Great came along in 332 BC and conquered it, Ancient Egypt was THE place to be. The Egyptian Series of novels written by Wilbur Smith give a fascinating insight into what life could have been with these people.

The next leap is off to the Greeks and a bit further afield and their designs and cultures.

I will be writing more about how all these cultures have influenced the wonderful monuments and culture of southern Spain so please read on…

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